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Trump to let US firms sell tech to Huawei

Details have yet to be worked out, but the president says that as part of a deal to resume trade talks with China, he'll allow sales of gear that doesn't involve a security risk.

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US firms can again deal with Huawei.

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

President Donald Trump agreed Saturday to lift some restrictions against US companies selling high-tech gear to Chinese telecom giant Huawei, says a report. "We're talking about equipment where there's not a great national-emergency problem with it," Trump said after a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In May, Trump signed an executive order essentially banning Huawei because of national security concerns that the company is too closely tied to the Chinese government and that its gear could be used to spy on other countries and companies. Huawei has repeatedly said those fears are unfounded.

The easing of restrictions is part of a general cease fire on trade reached between Trump and Xi during a meeting on the sidelines of a Group 20 meeting. Trump said the deal to restart talks would see the US delaying added tariffs on Chinese products in return for China buying American farm goods. 

It's not yet clear exactly what Huawei restrictions will be lifted. "We're going to work with China on where we left off to see if we can make a deal," Trump reportedly said during a news conference. The president said he'd hold off on the Huawei issue until the end of negotiations, the Journal said.

John Neuffer, president of the Semiconductor Industry Association, a trade group for makers of chips for computers, phones and other equipment, told the Journal he needed more details on what Huawei can now buy from member companies. He added, though, that he's "encouraged the talks are restarting and additional tariffs are on hold."

Unnamed sources told the Journal that US national security officials have been exploring ways of narrowing the Huawei prohibitions so they pinpoint sales of US gear used in "chokepoints," places where the Chinese company's tech could control wireless networks. Security experts have voiced concern about foreign powers disrupting US communications networks, especially during a national emergency.

Originally published June 28, 9:44 a.m. PT.
Update, 10:20 a.m.: Adds mention of concern about "chokepoints."